Help & Advice

Providing independent, confidential, and impartial advice to all University of Worcester students

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Living together safely during Covid-19 
Gas Safety & Smoke Alarms 
Security 
Housemate disputes 
Utility Bills 
Leaving accommodation early 

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Living together safely during Covid-19 

Please refer to the University's FAQs around testing and self-isolation (worcester.ac.uk/coronavirus).

Covid-19 is spread mainly through close person-to-person contact. To avoid spreading the symptoms to those you live with, it is important that you try to stay away from them as much as possible for the duration you are self-isolating.

This could include:
 Staying in your own room
 Avoid using shared spaces at the same time
 Avoid using shared furniture such as sofas, beanbags or beds
 Use a separate bathroom, or if this isn’t possible, clean the bathroom every time you use it
 Use individual towels, including hand towels and tea towels

Keeping Your Property Clean
If you are concerned about the risk of contracting coronavirus, you may feel more inclined to keep your property clean and tidy. Your average detergent and bleach should be enough to remove the virus from indoor surfaces.

During this time, it is sensible to regularly clean surfaces, especially those that are touched frequently, such as door handles, handrails, remote controls and kitchen surfaces and cleaning a shared bathroom every time you use it. 

Local Community
We encourage you to consider other residents in St John's and the wider city. You may not consider yourself ‘vulnerable’ in line with the Government guidance, but there are many people in the local community who are. We would strongly advise you to remain mindful in the local area, shops and venues.

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Gas Safety & Smoke Alarms

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. Don't mistake the symptoms for a hangover. Last year 18 people died and over 300 suffered major injuries from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Don’t become a statistic; there are things you can do to keep yourself safe.

If you are living in rented accommodation, your landlord has to have any gas appliance that they own regularly maintained by a Gas Safe Register engineer and issue you with a copy of the gas safety record following the annual safety check. Find out more online.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms must be installed in rooms that have solid fuel appliances, such as a log burner or open fire. It is recommended (but not a legal requirement) that carbon monoxide alarms are installed in all rooms that contain a gas fire, cooker or boiler.

With effect from 1 October 2015, all rented properties must have a minimum of one working smoke alarm fitted on every level of the property which has living accommodation. 

The landlord or agent must ensure all alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. The responsibility for regular testing lies with the tenant – a monthly test is recommended. If there are problems with any of the alarms, the landlord or agent must be advised as soon as possible. 

 Click here to view a property checklist which has been produced by Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, Worcester City Council Housing Department and University of Worcester to help you assess the standard of fire safety in your chosen accomodation.

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Security

Are all your windows and doors to your accommodation secure? This is especially important in ground floor accommodation and off campus housing. Remember to ensure your bedroom and accommodation doors are shut securely and never prop fire doors open.

Bike safe - Use a hard D lock and apply for access to the secure bike storage

University security - email security@worc.ac.uk or in an emergency call 07977973956

The safety and security of you and your belongings at home is paramount. Home is where you should feel safe and is where you will keep your most valuable belongings most of the time.The University provides free standard Endlseigh insurance in halls. You can contact Endsleigh to increase cover on specific items of value.

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Housemate disputes 

Building and maintaining a good relationship between housemates can help to avoid issues escalating into problems. A good relationship will also make living in the house more enjoyable for everybody. Having a good relationship does not necessarily mean being best friends but should involve a level of mutual respect that allows everyone to feel comfortable.

One of the most important things you can do in a shared house is to understand how your behaviour might impact on others. You may feel it's okay to leave your dishes to accumulate over the day but others may find that seriously annoying. Always try be respectful and open to compromise.

If you're struggling to resolve a dispute, our academic and welfare advisor can provide some advice.

  Click here to book an appointment with our advisor, Kate.

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Utility Bills

Complaints: If you have a complaint it is important to contact your energy supplier first. Suppliers have to accept complaints made by telephone, writing and through their website.

If at any point you are unsure of your rights, the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline can help 08454 04 05 06. For more information click here.

Having Difficulty Paying Your Energy Bills?

It is possible to find yourself in energy arrears on your gas and/electricy accounts for a number of reasons. However, it is important that you deal with the problem as soon as possible, if you delay you could be disconnected. If you need help speak to our advisor, Kate.

 Citizens Advice have information and advice on what you can do if you find yourself struggling to pay your energy bills.
 Which? also offer information if you find you can't pay your energy bill.
 Act On Energy offer advice on all energy related issues from problems with bills to accessing grants, call 0800 988 2881 or fill out their contact form.

Grants for Utility Bills:

The Severn Trent Trust Fund is a charity established to help people experiencing difficulty in meeting their water charges.
The trust issues grants to help people clear or reduce their water debt. To be able to apply you must receive your water or sewerage services from Severn Trent Water Ltd. To apply online visit www.sttf.org.uk

Charis Grants offer support to domestic customers of nPower, British Gas, EDF Energy, South East Water and Anglian Water. To apply visit www.charisgrants.com

TV Licence

A colour TV licence currently costs £150.50 for 12 months, what students are often unaware of is that they may be able to claim a refund for the summer period. TV licensing have a special information section for students on their website www.tvlicensing.co.uk

If you are in halls of residence check first with the Accommodation Department that you need to purchase a licence, as it may be included with your rent.

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Leaving Private Accomodation Early

We know that things don't always work out as planned. If you decide that you want to leave your accommodation before the end of the fixed term, we've produced some simple information.

Check your tenancy agreement carefully. If you would like a Student Advisor to check your tenancy please get in touch

Individual Tenancies (the agreement is just in your name):

You can leave a tenancy before the end of the agreement; however, you will usually remain liable for the remaining rental amount which can be thousands of pounds.

The landlord may pursue you for the money and possibly apply to the small claims court for the amount they are owed and possibly the costs of recovering the payment. This can make it difficult to get any form of credit for several years.

Guarantors:

If your tenancy has been backed by a guarantor they will normally become liable for the outstanding amount of rent.

Joint Tenancies (all tenants sign the same agreement):

With a joint tenancy, your liability may pass to the remaining tenants leaving them to cover what you would have paid during the length of the tenancy agreement. This may cause conflict between you and the remaining tenants and they could take you to the small claims court in order to recoup the money.

Finding a replacement tenant:

You may be able to find a new tenant to move into the property for the remainder of the tenancy agreement. However, this must be with the agreement of the landlord (or his agents) and preferably the agreement of the remaining tenants.

It is advisable that you ask your landlord to complete a ‘Deed of Assignment’, which is a document that will formally exonerate you from any future liabilities with regards to the tenancy. This Deed will need to be completed by all parties and the remaining tenants in the property, if it is a joint tenancy. The landlord can forward a copy of the Deed to notify the relevant deposit scheme about the change of tenant.

Where can I advertise my room?:

If you need to find a replacement tenant, try and advertise your room as widely as possible:

 Studentpad message boards
 Post in the Housemate Finder group, or the Official Student Group (20-21) on Facebook.
 Put up posters and notices on campus (please request permission from the SU before displaying any materials)
 Ask other housemates to help

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Leaving University Accommodation Early

Cooling-off Period:

There is a short cooling-off period commencing from the day you move into your University managed property. If you wish to move or have a problem you MUST speak to the Accommodation team as soon as possible before the cooling off period has expired. Refer to your licence agreement for more information.

After the cooling-off period:

Your licence agreement does not normally allow you to leave your accommodation, unless you are also leaving your course. If you do leave your accommodation early you will be liable to pay the University the remainder of your rent for the entire academic year.

Room changes:

It may be possible to change your room. There is a charge to change rooms but it is normally waived during the first few weeks of term.

  If you need any help or advice around leaving accommodation, book an appointment with our advisor, Kate.